Ireland’s children’s minister, Roderic O’Gorman, has announced that in 2022 research on legislating for a ban on conversion therapy will begin, reports the Irish Examiner.
Responding to a parliamentary question from Social Democrat TD Gary Gannon, O’Gorman – who is openly gay – said that the Government is committing to ending the archaic practice.
“The Programme for Government contains a commitment to legislate to end the practice of conversion therapy, an objective I strongly support,” he said, adding that his department had already “developed a scoping paper on research into conversion therapy in February 2021”.
“This paper comprised a literature overview and a high-level examination of the banning of conversion therapy internationally, along with any evidence in Ireland of conversion therapy practices.”
He added that a sub-committee of the LGBTI+ National Inclusion Strategy Steering Committee had been established to examine the scoping paper and to make decisions about appropriate the next steps.
“I am pleased to say that my department is now commissioning research to capture the views and experiences of people who have been subjected to the practice of conversion therapy in Ireland. A Request for Quotation issued on 16 November 2021 and it is expected that the research will be commissioned and begin early in 2022.
Adding that he “will work very hard with all involved to ensure that the necessary legislation is enacted”.
Despite such declarations, The Gay Health Network said in a press release that it is: “gravely concerned at the stalling of progress on this matter”, and at the “continued delay by Government on the enactment of the legislation, on the basis that research is needed”.
Adding: “There remains no clear deadline for the completion of such research. In the meantime, Conversion Therapy practices continue to cause damage to individuals.”
Speaking to The Journal back in April, O’Gorman said that the Government “must be proactive in banning practices that not only propagandise harmful and discriminatory messages, but ones that also have serious negative consequences on a young person’s mental health, with the potential to inflict long-lasting damage.”
Continuing: “Legislating for a ban on conversion therapy will send a clear and unambiguous message to everyone, both younger and older, that a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression is not up for debate.”
The practice of conversion therapy can take various forms but often refers to any form of treatment or psychotherapy which aims to change a person’s sexual orientation or to suppress a person’s gender identity, using psychological, physical, or spiritual interventions. It is based on the assumption that being lesbian, gay, bi or trans is a mental illness that can be ‘cured’.
These therapies are widely considered ineffective, unethical and harmful for anyone who undergoes the process.